American Insouciance

Now that military officers selected by the Bush Pentagon have reached a split verdict convicting Salim Hamdan, a onetime driver for Osama bin Laden, of supporting terrorism, but innocent of terrorist conspiracy, do you feel safe?

Or are we superpower Americans still at risk until we capture bin Laden’s dentist, barber and the person who installed the carpet in his living room?

The Bush regime, with its comic huffings and puffings, is unaware that it has made itself the laughing stock of the world, a comedy version of the Third Reich.

Hamdan was not defended by the slick lawyers that got O.J. Simpson off, and he most certainly did not have a jury of his peers. Hamdan was defended by a Pentagon-appointed U.S. Navy officer, and his jurors were all Pentagon-appointed U.S. military officers with an eye on their careers. Even in this kangaroo court, Hamdan was cleared of the main charge.

The U.S. Navy officer who was Hamdan’s appointed attorney is certainly no terrorist sympathizer. Yet even this U.S. officer said that the rules Bush designed for the military tribunals were crafted to achieve convictions. He also said that the judge allowed evidence that would not have been admitted by any civilian or military U.S. court. He said that the interrogations of Hamdan, which comprised the basis of the Bush regime’s case, were tainted by coercive tactics, including sleep deprivation and solitary confinement.

Does this make you a proud American?

Do you think you are made more safe when you stand there while “your” government implements its own version of Joseph Stalin’s show trials?

The trial and conviction of Hamdan has made every American very unsafe.

The one certain fact about U.S. law is that it is expanded until it applies to everyone. Consider RICO, for example, the asset-freeze law that was intended only in criminal cases involving the Mafia. It wasn’t long before RICO found its way into civil divorce proceedings.

Bush’s multiyear, multibillion-dollar “war on terror” has been reduced to railroading a low-level employee, a driver, for “terrorism.”

One would hope that the Hamdan verdict would be enough shame and ridicule for the United States in one day. But no, Bush didn’t stop there. On his way to the Beijing Olympics, President Bush expressed “deep concerns” for the state of human rights in China.

But not in Guantanamo, or in Abu Ghraib, or in the CIA’s torture dungeons used for “renditions,” or in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the United States is expert at bombing weddings, funerals, children’s soccer games and every assortment of civilians imaginable.

As the good book says, clean the beam from your own eye before pointing to the mote in your brother’s eye.

But Americans, the salt of the earth, have neither beams nor motes. We are the virtuous few, ordained by God to impose our hegemony on the world. It is written, or so say the neocons.

What would President Bush say if, heaven forbid, the Chinese were as rude as he is and asked Mr. Superpower why the land of “freedom and democracy” has 1 million names on a watch list? China, with a population four times as large, doesn’t have a watch list with 1 million names.

What would President Bush say if China asked him why the United States, with a population one-fourth the size of China’s, has hundreds of thousands more of its citizens in prison? The percentage of Americans in prison is far higher than in China and is a larger absolute number.

What would President Bush say if China asked him why he used lies and deception to justify his invasion of Iraq? China, unlike Bush, is not responsible for 1.2 million dead Iraqis and 4 million displaced Iraqis.

China’s human rights policy is not perfect. China’s greatest human rights failing is that China is the Bush regime’s prime enabler of its war crimes and human rights abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan. By financing Bush’s budget deficit, China is financing Bush’s gratuitous wars. Indeed, China can be said to finance the weaponry that the United States gives Israel to enable the suppression of the Palestinians and with which to bomb the civilian population of Lebanon.

China is a serious human rights abuser, because China is complicit in Bush’s human rights abuses.

If we are honest about who is actually murdering and abusing people, it is the United States, Israel and the United Kingdom. There’s your “axis of evil.”


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